October is National Seafood month. This month is a time to reflect on the abundance of the ocean and about the importance of taking care of our greatest natural resource. By eating sustainably caught fish, and dining in restaurants that promote that ideology, everyone can “Dish on Fish”.
Recently we had the great privilege of dining at two outstanding Las Vegas restaurants that not only stand by the philosophy of maintaining and sustaining our oceans, but deliver a meal that is healthy and harmonious with the planet. Our First venture was with the amazing American Fish Restaurant at the Aria Hotel and our next stop was the acclaimed Aquaknox at the Venetian / Palazzo Resorts.
American Fish is a Michael Mina Restaurant and with a great chef at the helm only the best is expected. American Fish focuses on using the freshest ingredients and incorporates the traditional American cooking techniques. My friend was telling me that maybe they should stock Alaskan Harvest fish because this friend would use their produce in his cooking and whenever he is cooking fish I want some!
As we approached the restaurant we were struck by the luminous quality of the restaurant with the faux birch tree forest that accented the back of bar, and the ceiling that looked like a hundred mantra rays floating above us. We had the feeling of being surrounded by beauty of the natural world.
We were escorted to our booth and greeted by the lovely and energetic general manager, Tiffani Cioe. Tiffani wanted to make sure that we had no dietary restrictions. With that in mind, we knew that we were going to enjoy an amazing culinary experience. Tiffani wanted us to try the lobster tasting menu: a menu that was created especially for National Seafood Month. Our Sommelier, Kathleen, brought us the carefully selected wines that elevated each dish, revealing new levels of flavors.
We started with a Lobster Carpaccio; Radish, sea beans, ginger-lime vinaigrette. This “Carpaccio “of succulent delicate slices of lobster with the bright acidity from the vinaigrette, and the delightful crunch of the sea beans was a fantastic first course.
This was paired with a Heidi Schrock Muscat; Rust, Austria 2007 The Muscat was austere and steely and provided a balance to the light flavors of the dish.
Second Course: A Soup and Sandwich that was unlike any we have ever tried before.
Here was a great take on an American classic dish;
Heirloom tomato soup, with a lobster grilled cheese. The cheese melted perfectly with the lobster meat, giving us the perfect bite sized sandwich. The Heirloom tomato soup was rich and creamy with a nice bite of pine nuts which added to the texture of the soup and a touch of basil oil brought forth wonderful aromatics that made us stop and savor the smell of the soup.
This was indeed one of our favorite courses of the evening and was a great take on comfort food. This was paired with a Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France 2008. All we can say is Oui (Yes) to this pairing and Merci (thank you) to our sommelier.
Third Course: Ocean Water Poached Seasonal Shell fish with Buckwheat noodles, and sake broth. This dish held a little of something for every seafood lover. There were perfectly cooked shrimp, scallops, and of course the decadent lobster in a light and refreshing Sake Broth.
This was served on a bed of Buckwheat noodles which gave heartiness to the dish and a boast in texture. This was an interesting hearty, yet delicate dish that the aromatic Selbach-Oster Spatlese, Mosel-Saar- Ruwer, Germany2007 added a refreshing quality with its tropical and spicy notes.
Fourth Course: Bacon Wrapped Lobster Tail, roasted eggplant with a Priere De Montezargures Rose, Tavel, Rhone, France 2010. Although we loved the Rose on its own we felt that this pairing could have been elevated further with a Burgundy or Pinot Noir.
The richness of the bacon and the dense flesh of the lobster combined could have used a wine with a little more structure and ambience. However, the Rose held essences of watermelon and strawberry and nice acidity which was a great drinking wine in its own right. We did enjoy the dish but wanted a little bit more structure with the pairing.
Fifth Course: Maine Lobster Tail, Filet of Beef with a Pinot Noir reduction, Wood grilled Surf and Turf. A maine lobster tail, filet of beef, pinot noir reduction.
The richness of filet did meet with the bold Pesquera, Ribera Del Dureo, Spain 2007 but in some aspects the Tempranillo was such a hearty wine that in some aspects overpowered the lobster. Perhaps complimenting the pinot noir reduction with a pinot made in a bolder style such as the one from the Russian River Valley would have assisted in this pairing.
Aside from the wine the dish was well executed and we enjoyed each bite.
The Dessert Course; Farmer market Figs , mascarpone cream, ginger beer sorbet paired with the Rwc Boston Boal Maderia, Portugal Nv.
This dish was a pleasant finish to our bounty of the sea tasting. The richness of the figs was met with the freshening and light ginger beer sorbet and the creaminess of the mascarpone.
We savored each bite and contemplated our thanks to our Executive Chef, Sven Mede, for his expertise at showcasing the bounty of the sea with finesse,flair and flavor.
Chef Michael Mina does indeed have another rising star amongst his many restaurants. American Fish is the place to visit in Las Vegas for a true experience honoring the beauty and abundance of the American waters.
Our next stop to celebrate National Seafood Month was the acclaimed Aquaknox located in the Venetian Resort and Casino.
As we entered the restaurant with is undulating hues of blue we were escorted to our table by Veteran Server, Alan, someone who has been with Aquaknox and Chef Tom Moloney since 2003.
Being consistent in the restaurant business and being successful in a town full of celebrity chefs along with hundreds of others fantastic chefs and restaurateurs, is a feat of dedication, talent and of course consistently great food, that is exactly what Executive Chef Tom Moloney brings to the plate at Aquaknox.
Chef Tom Moloney is a nationally recognized chef that devoted 12 years of his career working with the Celebrity Chef, Wolfgang Puck. Chef opened seven casual and fine dining restaurants as well as consulting and overseeing kitchen operations for the International Panda Restaurant Group.
He is now Executive Chef at Aquaknox located in the Venetian Hotel, Resort and Casino and continues to bring culinary mastery to the world of seafood.
Chef Tom Moloney is a pioneer for bringing sustainable seafood options to restaurant diners. He has since partnered with Safe Harbor Certified Seafood, http;//www.safeharborlasvegas.com/ to bring sustainable seafood to patrons that are free of pathogens and radiation and have passed rigorous testing that surpasses the FDA requirements for safe seafood.
During this celebration, each dish was presented with information on where and what method the fish were caught. One could even know the boat’s name, the captain’s name and the exact latitude and longitude of where the fish were caught. Now that’s detail. And all those little details add up to amazing food that is prepared with insight, passion and a respect for the product that is served to your table.
Safe Harbor Certification is the most outstanding seafood safety program, and is unique to the restaurant business. By using the best in seafood and local sustainable ingredients, Chef Tom hopes to raise the consciousness of each person dining at Aquaknox. He promotes the idea that everyone can play a part in protecting our most valuable natural resource by making informed dining choices.
We started with tuna foam Amuse Bouche that did indeed make our mouths very happy. We then went on to try a sample of various appetizers that were all fresh, clean and vibrant.
During this month chef rotated various specials to give diners a chance to a species that many may not be familiar with and also to reacquaint them to old favorites.
We had the chance to try the Kanpache with pepronata, Gigante, beans, and saffron-tomato jus. The Kanpache is a fish that “represents an ecologically responsible natural resource, rich in Omega fatty acids and free of detectable mercury”, according to kona-blue.com ,with this in mind, the fish was not only a delicious but a very healthy protein.
The fish was cooked to perfection accented with the delicate saffron-tomato jus, and the richness of the gigante beans.
Another favorite of the evening was a sweet shrimp and lump crab salad with a sesame and mango dressing that left us begging for more.
Chef also presented a beet and watermelon salad with sherry vinaigrette that was a refreshing compliment to our main course.
We were also treated to John Dory that was on a bed Lobster succotash with Sweet Corn Nage to coincide with the seasonal fare. Each dish was indeed prepared with the insight; bringing the most harmonious, healthy and elegantly prepared food to our table.
Our night was not over until we tried some of the Chefs signature desserts.
These included a Vanilla Crème Brule and A version of The “Take 5” candy bar. Both were rich and decadent and a little bite of each went a long way.
Our meal was indeed a pleasure and also one that caused us to reflect on the care and culinary artistry of our executive chef, Tom Moloney, and his excellent staff. For those who appreciate the best in sustainable seafood, dine at Aquaknox located in the Venetian Hotel.
For additional information visit venetian.com or www.aquaknox.net.
National Seafood Month is all about finding dining venues in your city that reflects responsible fishing as well as dining. It is well worth the time to ask questions the next time you are dining at a seafood Restaurant . The future of our Oceans and Food depend on it. Bon Appetit !